Seanad Éireann - Volume 124 - 28 February, 1990

Death of Former Oireachtas Member: Expression of Sympathy.

An Cathaoirleach: I am calling on Senator Lanigan to move a motion of sympathy. I will afford time to the leaders of the different political groupings of the Seanad to make a contribution if they so wish.

Mr. Lanigan: It is with regret that I rise to propose a vote of sympathy of the House to the family of the late John L. O'Sullivan, who served this House extremely well when he was here and, indeed, served the other House for very many years. Apart from serving in the Houses of the Oireachtas, he served in many public bodies throughout his long years of public life and, even though he was quite elderly, he remained active in public life until very recently. He was a man who had seen the formation of this State and he served the State. After he left the Houses of the Oireachtas, he continued to serve at local and national level. To his family I propose a vote of sincere sympathy. Go raibh rath Dé ar a anam.

Mrs. Doyle: I second the Leader's motion of sympathy to the family of the late Councillor L. O'Sullivan. John L. was a tremendously colourful character throughout his long life. He served in the Houses of the Oireachtas, as has been said, from 1969 to 1977, including a term here as a Senator. He was a member of the much esteemed Old IRA, a man who took up arms for his country, a man who was sentenced to death, a man whose life was spared because of the Treaty. Indeed, many a colourful story he told to those of us who knocked at his door over the years for advice and support, and for electoral support when the time was right. He was, indeed, a wonderful local councillor, chairperson of his county council, as well a parliamentarian in these Houses. He was a true Corkman, a man of very strong views, a man of great character but, above all, he is the last of a generation and a great Irishman.

Professor Raftery: I, too, would like to be associated with this vote of sympathy to the O'Sullivan family. Of few people can it be said that they were a legend in their own lifetime, but I believe that can be said of the late Councillor John L. O'Sullivan. He served his country fearlessly from an early age and he served on the local authority and Cork County Council right up to his death. He was a remarkable man, who did not suffer fools gladly, a man of integrity and of extraordinary courage. To his family I would like to extend very sincere sympathy. As they say, ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Dr. Upton: I, too, would very much like to be associated with the vote of sympathy to the family of the late John L. O'Sullivan. I met John L. O'Sullivan just once, during the Seanad campaign at the Cork County Council offices and I thought at that stage he was a truly remarkable fellow, given his age. It was wonderful to meet somebody who had been around since before the foundation of the State. He was exceptionally courteous and kind to me. One of the things which particularly struck me on that occasion was the way the other councillors, of all shades of political opinion, looked after him and took him around. What was perfectly obvious to me was the tremendous respect in which he was held by people of every shade of opinion in the Cork County Council on that day last June. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

[227] Mr. Norris: I would like to join in the expression of sympathy on behalf of the Independent group. I asked especially of my colleagues that I should be allowed this honour and privilege, which was graciously yielded to me, even though Senator John A. Murphy would have liked to speak, a real recognition of the fact that this was a great Corkman.

The reason I particularly wanted to speak is because I had some slight personal acquaintance of John L. O'Sullivan. He was a big man in every way. I first met him at the General Council of County Councils in Ballybunion, County Kerry, when I was invited to speak by a member of the Government party. I always believe in speaking my mind, and speaking the truth, and it caused some little controversy. At the end of the meeting a very large man advanced upon me and I was not quite sure what were his intentions. He stretched out a hand and said: “You are a great little fighter”. I felt he was a big-hearted, generous person, somebody who was a fighter, a clean fighter, a decent fighter in the early days of this State and somebody who maintained this very honourable tradition throughout his parliamentary career. It is a great sadness to me that he has passed away. I was unaware he was ill. His death has caused a genuine feeling of regret on the Independent benches.

Mr. Dardis: On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, we would like to join with the other tributes that have been made to John L. O'Sullivan. We recognise his qualities as a great Corkman and a great Irishman and his contribution to public life. We extend out sympathy to his family. May he rest in peace.

Professor Murphy: I did not realise that John L. O'Sullivan had passed away until the Leader of the House rose. I had the privilege of giving the oration in Béal na Bláth in 1982 and on that occasion he was full of life, vigour and pride. He gave me a very warm welcome. I am very happy to say these few words in his memory.

[228] Members rose in their places.